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ECR eyes seat boost with Reconquête addition, signals rightward shift

09
Febbraio 2024
Di Maximilian Powell

In a move that has stirred the European political scene, the right-wing party Reconquête, formerly led by the polarising figure Éric Zemmour, declared this week its intention to align with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group. This decision may signal a rightward shift for the ECR but also strengthens its standing in anticipation of the upcoming European Union elections in June. Marion Maréchal, the niece of Zemmour’s political rival Marine Le Pen, has been chosen to spearhead their campaign.

With the European elections on the horizon, the focus is intensifying on the contest for third place in the Parliament‘s new term. According to the latest projections from Europe Elects, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) is expected to maintain its frontrunner status with 179 seats, with the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) trailing at 140 seats. However, the race for the third position is becoming increasingly competitive, with the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group predicted to clinch 91 seats, closely followed by the liberal Renew Europe Group with 82 seats and the conservative ECR with 80 seats.

Reconquête’s addition, currently polling between 5% and 7% in France and poised to secure up to six seats, could enhance the ECR’s standing in this tight contest. Political analysts highlight that the final composition of the parliament could well depend on the decisions of parties yet to declare their affiliations. The dynamic could further shift if Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party also opts to join the ECR group. Such a move could further increase the ECR’s seat tally by 14, marking a significant realignment within the European political landscape.

All this means that the ECR, which counts among its ranks influential parties such as Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) and Italy’s Brothers of Italy led by Giorgia Meloni, is set to emerge as a key player in the European Parliament, with stated ambitions to secure EU top jobs in the next mandate. However, not all ECR members will be welcoming far-right forces to the group with open arms. MEP Veronika Vrecionová from the Czech Republic’s ODS, one of the ECR group’s founding members, stated, “Fidesz does not belong in the ECR Group, and it is completely out of the question for me and many of us in the group”, adding that “Orbán has nothing in common with the values of the ECR Group”.

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